NASHVILLE – The waiting is almost over for the Titans and quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The season opener in Cleveland is now just four days away, and Mariota is ready.
"It's a special feeling," Mariota said on Wednesday when asked to describe what his feelings will be like as he takes the field on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium. "No matter what, I think it is (something you) never take for granted. Every opportunity you have to come out on the field is a blessing and it's a privilege. I am looking forward to it. It is going to be a lot of fun, and the atmosphere is going to be great.
"It is just fun to go out and play ball again."
Mariota has won his last two starts vs. the Browns and he owns a 99.6 passer rating with five touchdowns in his career vs. Cleveland. His five TD passes vs the Browns is more than any non-division foe.
Dating back to last season, Mariota has won his last four starts, joining Mitch Trubisky and Andrew Luck as 1 of 3 quarterbacks to finish undefeated over four-plus starts to end the 2018 regular season.
From a health standpoint, Mariota said he feels "completely different" and "a lot better and healthier and ready to go" following a season when he dealt with a nerve injury that first surfaced in Week One in Miami in 2018 and lingered the entire season, robbing him of playing time and starts.
He hopes to stay healthy – and available – for all 16 games this fall.
"I have been dinged, I have been banged up, and I understand that," Mariota said. "I just have to do my job to be available for this team and hopefully throughout the year that will happen."
Mariota's mindset heading into Sunday's season opener is simple.
"Enjoy it," Mariota said. "It is going to be a fun atmosphere. And secondly, don't allow the moment to be too big. Just continue to do your job, focus on what the coaches are asking you, focus on what we're trying to do and from there just go play. It is going to be a lot of fun. It is going to be a great atmosphere, and I can't wait to play."
The Tennessee Titans practice on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donald Page)